Apple’s VR headset could be more powerful than the world's best MacBook

Apple VR
A mockup of the Apple VR headset (Image credit: Future)

Ahead of its rumored 2023 launch, it seems the Apple headset is getting a power boost thanks to Apple’s impressive M2 chip. If true then it could make be more powerful than our favorite MacBook, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020).

That’s according to Mark Gurman’s latest Power On newsletter where he said “I’m told the latest internal incarnations of the [Apple headset] run the base M2 chip along with 16 gigabytes of RAM.” Previous rumors had indicated that Apple’s headset would instead be powered by two different chips – an M1-like processor for more intense applications, and a weaker chip for low-powered uses.

Rumors should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but this one from Gurman certainly makes a lot of sense. 

When the Apple headset was due to launch this year an M1 chip would have been an appropriate choice. The more powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max processors are designed for professional workstations like the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) rather than consumer-focused devices like the headset, and the M2 would have been too new to properly incorporate it into the headset’s design.

However, given that 2023 is set to be the headset’s due date, Apple now has plenty of time to configure its design around its more powerful M2 hardware. If it does so it’ll also avoid any embarrassment of launching a premium device with outdated hardware.

The Apple M1 and Apple M2 chips side by side

The Apple M1 and Apple M2 chips side by side (Image credit: Apple)

The M2 and M1 both feature an 8-core CPU, with four performance cores and four efficiency cores. However, the M2 has two more GPU cores for a total of 10, as well as a neural engine capable of 5.8 trillion operations per second, more than 40% more operations than on the M1 according to Apple.

Translating what the numbers mean into practical terms, thanks to its upgraded GPU the headset should be able to put its dual-8K micro OLED displays to good use. Apple’s headset with an M2 would be able to create more visually impressive and (importantly) more realistic AR and VR experiences. 

This souped-up hardware will likely come at a high cost. With specs comparable to some of Apple's best iPads and best MacBooks, we expect the headset will set us back at least $1,000 / £1,000 / $1,500 if not more, but we'll have to wait and see what the Californian tech giant decides.

Apple has yet to confirm the existence of its headset publically yet, though Apple CEO Tim Cook has teased that the company is working on some kind of AR hardware

With a 2023 launch seeming more and more likely we’ll hopefully hear something more concrete about Apple’s AR/VR efforts later this year – or more likely at its spring 2023 conference which will probably take place in March.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.